The Revolver magazine Golden Gods awards are always a huge highlight on the metal calendar. It’s a chance for the heavy music community to get together over a few drinks – okay, a lot of drinks – remember a few fallen comrades (this year’s event took place just hours after the announcement of the death of Slayer guitarist Jeff Hannemann) and to just generally celebrate heaviness in the same way that the mainstream music celebrates itself at the Grammys, or the film industry celebrates itself at the Oscars, or the theatre scene does with the Tonys. Of course, with the exception of the Bret Michaels incident a few years ago, the typical Tonys telecast doesn’t involve screaming, or bleeding copiously from the head – which is what happened when Dillinger Escape Plan took the stage at this year’s Golden Gods, with the added bonus of fire. Lots of it. “Aaha. There was certainly a lot of confused faces in the crowd,” laughs guitarist Ben Weinman. “I think that’s why they asked us to do the job.” Continue reading
BELA LUGOSI’S TALES FROM THE GRAVE ELECTRIC GUITAR & COFFIN CASE!
(LOS ANGELES) ESP Guitars is coming out with a limited edition LTD Dracula Bela Lugosi Dracula Guitar. There will be only 325 of these made Worldwide. They come with a limited edition killer coffin case as well.
This guitar will be featured at Comic-Con International 2012 (SDCC 2012) in San Diego this July and will be heavily publicized by ESP in Premier Guitar Magazine in the October issue.
There are plenty of benefits to be gained from using active pickups, not the least of which are low noise and high signal integrity over long cable runs. But not everyone loves the sound of typical actives. EMGs are well known for their killer metal tone – they’ve driven the tones of players like Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield, Zakk Wylde and Devin Townsend to name just a few – and their single coils were long used by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. Seymour Duncan seems to be especially good at spotting holes in the market, and there was a pretty glaring one in the active sector: players who want the benefits of active pickups but would prefer a more organic tone. The Blackouts series of pickups do a great job of this, but the Blackouts Modular Preamp is another very clever approach to the issue.
Available separately and in the Blackouts Coil Pack and Gus G FIRE Blackouts System signature set (which is featured in some of Gus’s signature ESP and LTD guitar models), the BMP-1s replaces your existing volume pot, throws in a 9v battery, and allows you to get a high gain active guitar sound from any passive four-conductor pickup. In Gus’s case, the BMP-1s is combined with a matched pair of low-out Alnico 5-loaded passive humbuckers. Gus explains: “This system combines the massive tone, kick, and distortion of Blackouts with the rich tone and expressive feel of my favorite passive pickups. It responds perfectly to all my picking techniques, and more of my personality comes through than with any active pickup I’ve tried.” Naturally Gus needs plenty of sonic versatility within the rock/metal realm, since he does double time in Firewind and as Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist.
Massachusetts modern metal monsters Unearth are currently here in Australia for the Soundwave festival, and guitarist Buz McGrath is rocking a pretty unique guitar for the shows. Buz was a longtime Ibanez endorser with some of the coolest Ibanez LA Custom Shop guitars in the biz, but although he still has a soft spot in his heart for that company, he recently decided it was time for a change. That led him and his unique custom ideas to find a new home with ESP, who recently introduced the LTD Buz-7 (click here to preorder it from Bmusic). Black bound maple fretboard, Snow White Sunburst finish, reverse headstock, neck-through-body construction, maple neck, alder body, 25.5″ scale, extra thin flat neck contour, 24 extra jumbo frets, EMG 707 active pickups, Grover tuners, Floyd Rose 1000 series bridge… it’s one of the sexiest 7-strings ESP or LTD has ever produced. I managed to grab some time with Buz to ask him what the deal was.
You were an Ibanez guy for a million years. What happened?
It was about a year ago that I felt like I couldn’t really do much with them. They were very good to me the whole time I was there. They made me some amazing custom guitars. Mike Taft, he was awesome. he would give me whatever I asked for. But I just felt like I needed a change. Part of my motivation was a signature model – not that that should be the be all and end all of a company, but that was part of it, and I saw that with ESP I would at least have a chance to get to that point. Whereas Ibanez has so many great players in much bigger bands than me who don’t even have that on the horizon. I thought that if Oli Herbert from All That Remains doesn’t get one then I don’t think they’re going to give me one. Or Chris Broderick [Megadeth], who ended up leaving for Jackson.
But I love Ibanez guitars. They were always good to me, but ESP made some goals of mine happen, and that’s rad. Not to mention I was always a fan of those guitars too, so it was always an easy choice.
Lots of cool stuff coming from ESP in 2012, including an entirely new Kirk Hammett signature model shape, ditto for Slayer’s Jeff Hannemann, a Michael Wilton (Queensryche) acoustic, killer sigs for Suicide Silence, Whitechapel and Unearth, and some wild new finishes.
Here are some highlights from ESPguitars.com:
Nearly everyone in the entire band Whitechapel got new LTD Signature Series models for 2012. The LTD AW-7 (Alex Wade) is a 7-string model based on the M Series, with a neck-thru-body design, alder body with flamed maple top with a Blood Red Sunburst finish. The guitar also features DiMarzio pickups and a fixed bridge with string-thru-body and locking tuners. The LTD BS-7 (Ben Savage) is a 7-string custom version of the MH Series guitar, with a neck-thru-body design, a See Thru Black finish on an alder body with flamed maple top, a teardrop-shaped headstock, maple fingerboard, EMG active pickups, Floyd Rose bridge, and locking tuners. Zach Householderʼs new signature model, the LTD ZH-7, is also a 7-string guitar based on the MH Series. It features a mahogany body with quilted maple top with a See Thru Black Satin finish, large block inlays, EMG active pickups, a Tonepros bridge, and locking tuners. Bassist Gabe Crisp also gets a signature model with the LTD GC-4, a customized Viper bass with neck-thru body design, a mahogany brown finish, ebony fingerboard and an EMG pickup set.
New Kirk Hammett models
Celebrating his 25th year as an ESP player, Metallicaʼs Kirk Hammett has three new models for you. The ESP KH-DC and LTD KH-DC are a brand new double-cutaway body style based on the Eclipse/EC, with a set neck design at 24.75” scale, and an attractive STBC (See Thru Black Cherry) finish on its flamed maple top. Like other EC models, the guitar offers a mahogany body and mahogany neck, with a rosewood fingerboard. The KH-DC features gold hardware, including gold-covered EMG 81 (bridge) and EMG 60 (neck) active pickups, and a Tonepros locking TOM bridge and tailpiece. The ESP version of the new Kirk Hammett model includes Sperzel locking tuners, while the LTD version offers ESP locking tuners.
The limited-edition LTD KH-25 has black distressed finish and graphics designed to emulate Kirkʼs famous KH-2 Vintage model. The KH-25 has bolt-on construction at 25.5″ scale, with a basswood body, maple neck, and a Floyd Rose Special bridge. The guitar also features ESPʼs new ALH-200 active pickups.
Man, I’m jealous of Gus G. Not only are Firewind awesome, but the dude has also been immortalised in the Eternal Descent graphic novel series. Oh and he replaced Zakk Wylde as Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist. He appears on Ozzy’s latest album, Scream, which is easily the Prince Of Darkness’s best since No More Tears – and his high-tech shreddering combines the great 80s Euro metal tradition and a more modern sensibility. Gus has several ESP and LTD signature models to his name, including an aggressive Explorer/V hybrid that looks positively evil. The Gus G EC, by contrast, is a slightly – only slightly, mind you – more traditional axe.
This Japanese-made guitar (also available in an LTD model as the GUS-600EC with some slightly different specs) is built with set-thru construction, which means the neck is glued in but then shaped to feel like a neck-thru for extra playing comfort. The body is mahogany with a hard rock maple top and white/black ply binding. The neck is three-piece maple (although you can’t see it since it’s finished in black gloss), with a rosewood fretboard and white binding. The carbon nut is 42mm standard, and the back of the neck is a thin U contour that seems to fit right into the webbing between thumb and index finger very comfortably. There are 22 extra jumbo frets, and the fretboard inlays are Firewind flames, which are well applied with only a minimum of epoxy filler around the tricky angles. The decal, which is applied only to the top is a cut a little roughly around the edges, but you wouldn’t notice from even a couple of feet away.
Oh hells yes! 7 and 8 string Eclipses! Rosewood-freboard ST-203FR! Eclipses with P90s! ESP is pulling out some pretty cool LTD stuff for Summer/Fall 2011. Let’s take a look, shall we?
EC-407, EX-307, and V-307
ESP gives a nod to the djent djeneration with these 7-stringers, all with mahogany bodies, maple necks, rosewood fretboards and EMG 81-7 and EMG 707 pickups.
Time to step up and face it: the ‘relic’ trend isn’t going away any time soon. In fact, it seems to be picking up steam as the ‘technology’ (mainly scrapin’ stuff and bangin’ junk, I bet) becomes more cost-effective. And that’s just fine by a lot of guitarists. We can’t all afford sweet vintage goodies with decades of grit, grime, love, hate and passion hammered into them, but relic’d guitars make it possible to tap into some of that same vintage vibe, along with the associated playability benefits. Now, ESP is no stranger to the relic biz. Witness their blindingly precise Kirk Hammett aged model, or George Lynch’s GL-56, the James Hetfield Truckster and Iron Cross models, and various other designs over the past few years. One of the more recent entries into the catalog is the LTD TE-202, a guitar which isn’t exactly shy about wearing its inspirations on its sleeve – it’s pretty much ESP’s take on a Telecaster.
Let’s put aside the relicing for a moment and look at what the TE-202 has to offer from a structural perspective. It features a heavy-duty Alder body (a tone wood prized for its rich midrange, tight bass and airy treble as well as a pretty damn decent dynamic range), with a satisfyingly vintage-tinted maple neck and fretboard, historically-accurate 25.5″ scale length, bolt-on construction and a traditional flat-mount bridge with six individual saddles.
Here’s a little peek at some new ESP/LTD models for 2010. There’s a lot of cool stuff here (including the incorporation of the Xtone line into the LTD range) but for me the ultra mega standout is the ST-203FR S-style axe with distressed finish, bridge humbucker and Floyd Rose. I’m also pretty psyched about the 7-string MH-417 and the EC-1000 in Silver Sunburst. Here’s info from ESP/LTD.
ESP is showing six new models in the LTD Deluxe line, and we have some seriously cool guitars this year. The LTD EC-1000 is being offered in 2010 with two new finishes: Silver Sunburst (SSB) and Metallic Gold (MGO). The guitars offer a comfortable single-cutaway mahogany body, and mahogany neck. The SSB model offers a 24-fret ebony fingerboard and EMG 81 (bridge) and EMG 60 (neck) active pickups, while the MGO model has a rosewood fingerboard and Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups.
More major updates to the LTD Deluxe line also include completely redesigned versions of the H-1001 and the new H-1001FR. The new models now incorporate ESP’s “F Series” headstock style, and the guitars’ binding is now black with abalone purfling. The new H-1001 is available in Black (BLK), as well as See-Through Black Cherry (STBC) with flamed maple top. The H-1001FR, available in See-Through Black Cherry over quilted maple, includes a Floyd Rose original style double-locking tremolo. Rounding out the updates to the LTD Deluxe line is a new finish for the MH-1000NT, now offered in See-Through Blue (STB).
The latest range of new LTD Standard Series models includes the 300 Series, which all use a neck-through-body or set neck design. New models include the FX-360, the H-351NT, the H-351FR, the MH-327, and the Viper-300M. The FX-360 adds EMG active pickups and a new Padauk Brown Satin (PBS) finish. The new H-351FR, available in Black (BLK) and Snow White (SW) finishes, changes the former H-Series design to LTD’s F-Style headstock, includes a Floyd Rose Special double-locking tremolo, EMG active pickups, black pearl binding (Snow White model); white pearl binding (Black model). The LTD line also expands with the H-351NT, a guitar with setthrough construction that comes in See-Through Black Cherry (STBC) and See-Thru Black (STBLK) over its flamed maple top. It offers black binding with abalone purfling. The new Viper-300M comes in a Vintage Brown Satin (VBS) finish with black nickel hardware, rosewood fingerboard, and EMG pickups.
A special new model in the LTD Standard Line is the MH-327. This unique guitar offers 27 frets, with a neck-thru-body design. A Floyd Rose Special double-locking tremolo is included as well as Seymour Duncan Hot Rail and Custom 5 pickups w/push-pull coil tap. Two finishes are available: Black (w/ White Pearl binding) and See-Through Red (STR) w/ White binding on a flamed maple top. Both models offer a mahogany body, maple neck, and rosewood fingerboard.
A new 7-string LTD model is being added to the LTD line at Winter NAMM 2010. The MH-417 has a 25.5” scale mahogany body with a black satin finish. A maple neck, 24- fret rosewood fingerboard, Grover tuners, Earvana nut, TOM bridge with string thrubody design, and EMG active pickups complete this powerful guitar.
Supplementing the ESP line at NAMM 2010 are the new ST-203 and ST-203FR guitars. These classic-shaped models both have distressed finishes: the ST-203 offers a Three-Tone Sunburst (3TB) finish and rosewood fingerboard with three single-coil pickups, while the ST-203FR comes in Black (BLK) with maple fingerboard, as well as a Floyd Rose Special double-locking tremolo, and one humbucker and two single-coil pickups.
Also new at NAMM, the LTD EC-256, an affordable set-neck single-cutaway guitar that’s been a popular seller in the ESP line, now comes in a new Aged Vintage Gold (AVG) distressed finish. (For my review of the EC-256, CLICK HERE)
Xtone: Now Part of LTD!
We have some cool news about our Xtone line: we’ve merged these killer hollow- and semi-hollow bodied into the LTD line, so they’ll be even easier to find at ESP dealers. We also have a new model for you to salivate over: the LTD Xtone PD-1 Paramount Deluxe is a solid-body guitar that offers high-performance components such as EMG 81/60 pickups, a Set-Thru neck joint for ultimate access, a TonePros TOM bridge w/ string-thru-body design, black binding, abalone purfling, pearloid/abalone inlays, and a 24-fret neck. Three finishes are available: Black (BLK), Pearl White (PW) and See-Through Black Cherry (STBC) on a flamed maple top.
More more photos, go here!
Aah, the relicing issue. Not since ‘tone is in the fingers’ has a topic generated such heated debate on guitar forums, in guitar stores and in dimly lit bars after gigs. Whether you like the idea of buying a brand-new bashed up guitar or you think it’s an abomination and an affront to real vintage guitars everywhere, everyone’s got an opinion. One way to look at it is: whether you’re into the look or not, a pre-aged guitar by its very nature has a few features that should make it a little nicer to play in some respects than a pristine off-the-shelfer.
ESP has had a few goes at offering aged finishes at various price points, including the James Hetfield Iron Cross and Truckster models (the latter of which was available in ESP and LTD versions), the George Lynch’s GL-56 and, most recently, the LTD EC-256 AHB. Based on the company’s Eclipse model, this relatively inexpensive axe is of the classic twin humbucker, set neck, mahogany body variety. It’s given ESP’s own distinctive touches, of course, including subtle curving of the top (instead of all-out carving), a volume-volume-tone control layout, and a sharp cutaway which seems to say “Some of this guitar is traditional, but your grandad never would have played this back in the day.”
The first thing to look at on a guitar like this is the relicing. Does it look authentic like a real beaten up guitar that’s been mishandled or loved on stages up and down the country? Nope. The sanding marks are pretty obvious, and the tri of dings on the treble side of the lower bout look quite contrived. Some rough sanding marks on the headstock look more like scratches from an unfriendly gig bag than a few decades of knocks from a succession of feisty roadies. But that’s all somewhat beside the point, because after a few years of regular use the ‘shininess’ of these manufactured blemishes is likely to be dulled by and intermingled with real-life ones, and it will truly become the dinged up but well-loved instrument that it was designed to look like. The most important thing about the EC-256 for me was that the back of the neck felt comfortably aged and friction-free, which made for a very pleasant playing experience. It’s also worth noting that the thin finish of the top allows the sound to breathe, opening up the treble and adding a little depth to the guitar’s amplified tone.
SO LET’S PLUG IT IN
The EC-256 sounds best with mild overdrive playing relatively dark music (Tool fans take note). It doesn’t seem to want to be a high gain screamer, although the natural tone seems to work really well with lowered tunings. It’s just that the guitar’s natural character is best represented by more subtle distortion levels. There’s a coil split on the tone control which extends the guitar’s personality and adds versatility while maintaining the guitar’s own character. Again, the neck pickup in single coil mode doesn’t really like to be distorted: it’s more at home with some light bluesy overdrive. If you dig the visual vibe and the way it plays but you need gutsier tones, a pickup upgrade might be in order.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Despite the aggressiveness of the cutway, which suggested a heavier musical orientation, I don’t think this is a guitar for those who play blazing solos over metal riffs. It’s much more at home with crunchy rhythm sounds and bluesy double stops. Whether you like the relicing or not is up to you but this is a guitar that will find its fans for what it is, rather than what it tries to be.